Making Zacusca, Addicted to the MEC, Head Lice, Photos of Bihor and A New Blog Added

Interesting little mixed bag this morning, although I’ve NOT included some of the weirder (and rambling, poorly-written) missionary blogs because frankly they’re all the same.

In fact, they all go like this (paraphrased):

Oh today I helped a little old Romanian lady out. I couldn’t understand a word she said but oh her toothless grin lit up and I felt the joy of the Lord flow through me. Yes! Jesus loves me and here I am helping out these poor suffering third-worlders! *patonback*

Well… something like that :P

But now for the good stuff. This link goes to a Russian-language blog but he took some gorgeous photographs of eastern Bihor Judet/County. I’ve seen these spots with my own eyes (waterfalls) and it truly is breathtakingly beautiful!

I’ve also added a new (English-language) blog to the blogroll, this one written by a Romanian woman. I added her to my links because of the moving eloquence of this post:

It’s a beautiful word. Musical, colourful, that brings memories along with it. Probably it is the feeling that best accompanies “dorul”. This is a unique Romanian word no other language that I know has. It means the act of missing someone, of longing for something you can’t have at that moment.

Heartbreakingly beautiful writing. Definitely check it out.

I also just found Bucharest Expat, which seems to be the official site for (mostly) British people living in… well you know where ;) Real professional website (including ads) but if you’re reading MY blog and speak English and live or go to Bucharest, you might want to check these fellows out.

I liked their article on making zacusca, including the nice photographs, but I swore that it was impossible to make this without gogosari. The author lists “ardei” which are certainly very similar to gogosari but not quite exactly the same. Still it’s easily one of my favorite Romanian foods of all time so yum!

Note: Both ardei and gogosari are specific cultivated versions of one plant – often called “bell pepper” in English. It’s a little bit like mandarins and “regular” oranges, or perhaps different kinds of apples, similar but not exactly the same.

Probably the most interesting article on their site however is this one:

Here’s my opinion to the question nobody asked… Romanians speak American English. Ask any Romanian where they learned english, and you’ll here one of two answers; the American School, or TV shows and Movies. Seen as how the only entertaining British TV shows are either Mr. Bean or Top Gear, one could only assume that if Romanians were learning English from such shows they would simply be communicating through a series of burps and noises…. so American it is. Thank God for subtitles.

Romanians speak American. Their marketing and advertising is in American, their movies and tv shows are in American english. Too bad thats all the US has to offer at this time. Elsewhere in the world? The king’s English ofcourse… education plays a “more important role” outside of Romania, so that explains the properfication of all things spoken.

No. Here’s the deal. All formal education (i.e. official school coursework) in English is done in the British way, right down to the spelling, pronunciation and grammar variants.

Then what happens is yes the television (and movies) are dominated by American products. So yes some Romanians learn “full British” in school, some learn “full American” via TV and some Romanians learn a chopped up blended version of the two combined.

While it’s true Romanians live in apartments (British: flat), it’s also true you ride a lift (Amer: elevator) up to your apartment. So it’s a real mix of the two, even in the borrowed words.

As for accent? Well I’ve met probably thousands of Romanians who “speak” English on some level or another and maybe about two of them sound American on a good day. The rest speak what I call “Global Engrish”, a kind of simplified version of the language that I myself speak on most days… just to be understood :P

Then I found this blog, written by a (retired?) American professor who spent a lot of time in Romania and still returns to this country on occasion. His Romanian is a little poor (shocker! :P) but otherwise it’s kind of nice to see a more historical look, from a guy who was here long before I was.

He did apparently get a little mixed up on one post, saying he was going from Cluj to Maramures but then…

On Friday, we loaded Klaus for a weekend in Maramures, and along with Dan’s wife Nancy Ratliff, we headed north, taking the scenic route out of Cluj through Chinteni, and then cutting east across broad Transilvanian farmlands to the main road, which we found just south of Gherla. Our ride north took us all afternoon, as we stopped often for photo opps, as in Glod (where the “Kazakstan” scenes in “Borat” were filmed).

I might be misreading his post but I’m pretty damn sure the village of Glod is in Dimbovita Judet/County, which is east of Bucharest, not northwest of Cluj.

Oh and good news as our Swedish-speaking visitor is now feeling better, although oddly enough her hosts were checking her for head lice :P

And last but not least, I found this rambling and typically American blog about an exchange student here in Romania. He is apparently addicted to The Mec:

This past weekend we went to Baia Mare again. Baia Mare is a town about 45 minutes away. It’s where we go to do all of our major grocery shopping, and actually shopping in general. They always ask me if I ant to come and of course I always say yes. Why? Because Baia Mare has a McDonalds. Normally in the states I would feel really bad about ordering a large, but here I don’t. Partially because McDonalds taste really good when you don’t have it all the time, and partially because their large is like our medium.

And this:

We stopped in Cluj, which is where I flew into, for lunch. Cluj is about 3 hours from Sighet. When we got into the mall food court, my eyes were automatically attracted to those golden arches. Yep, I hit up McDonalds. Best cure for homesickness ever!

Jeez! No wonder he’s unhealthy at such a young age. At least try the shawarma! :P

And sadly, just like (seemingly) ever other visitor here, he barely can speak the language and therefore misinterprets many things:

Today we spent all day at the lake. I made hamburgers for lunch, and they made goulash for dinner. Now I knew that Romanian and English shared the word goulash, so I assumed it would be talking about the same kind of food. Their goulash was actually a spicy soup. It has big chunks of meat with carrots, onions, and probably some other stuff that I don’t care to know about. It tasted very good though, so I ate a lot.

That’s because “goulash” is neither an English word nor a Romanian word. It’s a Hungarian dish with a Hungarian name, literally meaning something like “cowboy stew” and written gulyás with Hungarian letters :P

Poor kid. Let’s hope things get a little smoother in the near future!

3 thoughts on “Making Zacusca, Addicted to the MEC, Head Lice, Photos of Bihor and A New Blog Added

  1. Sam:

    Many thanks for pointing out that we were mistaken about the Glod we were in being that where scenes from that godawful movie “Borat” were filmed. I see that there is also a Glod near Targoviste, which is apparently the exploited village, since I read also that Cohen “stayed in Sinaia” during the filming crew’s time there. You’ll find “our Glod” just south of the Northern Carpathians, on the road from Dej to Baia Mare.

    By the way, I am not quite retired. I am in the a retirement transition program at New Hampshire’s Plymouth State University. That program puts me on half salary for five years, and has allowed me to accept this fall a half-year appointment at Universitatea Babes-Bolyai in Cluj.

    Under this transition program I can go anywhere I like for one semester each year. It is an opportunity to exit my academic career with a heavy dose of new learning.

    As for my Romanian, I claim no ability to speak the language, much less to write it. I am learning, however (slowly).

    Cu stima,

    Duncan McDougall


    1. Thanks for your kind response, professor! BTW I believe you just shuttled a Fullbright professor around who just got to Cluj. If he has any concerns or anything else (seems like he was having trouble negotiating the bus system) then tell him to get a hold of me. Felicitari on your language skills! :D It’s a devil of a language to learn ;)

      BTW if you click on “Contact Info” from the main page, there’s a lovely bar here in Cluj where many of us Americanos and foreigners hang out. You (all) are certainly welcome to come drop by! :D


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